Apr 112013
 

Pedernales-Cellars-Wines

Pedernales Cellars Wins Prestigious Grand Gold in its First-Ever French Wine Competition

Pedernales Cellars announced recently that its 2012 Viognier Reserve won the prestigious Grand Gold award – the French version of the Double Gold at American wine competitions – at the 2013 Concours International des Vins à Lyon (Lyon International Wine Competition), held this past Saturday.

Pedernales Cellars was the only American winery to win the Grand Gold – this year, a select group of 201 wines won the competition’s highest honor, from a record pool of more than 3200 entrants. The majority of winning wines in this year’s competition were French, though two other Texas wineries (Becker and Flat Creek) won silver and bronze medals respectively for their Viognier entries.

According to Pedernales Cellars co-owner, Dr. Julie Kuhlken, the winery was encouraged to enter the competition at the urging of Melba Allen, a French wine consultant with Oeno-com, who felt that Pedernales Cellars’ signature white varietal compared favorably to French versions of the wine. Pedernales Cellars then coordinated with Becker and Flat Creek to send the trio of Texas Viogniers across the Atlantic for consideration.

“It’s absolutely an honor to be awarded with a double gold in a major French wine competition,” said David Kuhlken, winemaker at Pedernales Cellars. “It speaks well to the evolution of Texas wine that a Texas-grown Viognier can be awarded at this level, at a competition held in the heart of the Rhone region where Viognier thrives.”

The 2012 Viognier Reserve will be available for sale on May 17; bottles and cases can be pre-ordered by calling or visiting the winery’s tasting room. Visitors to the winery can also sample the brand-new Spring 2013 nine-varietial tasting, highlighting white, red, and dessert wines that flourish in the Texas terroir, including the winery’s latest takes on Albarino, Tempranillo, and Moscato Giallo.

Pedernales Cellars will participate in two of the premier food festivals in Texas later this month — the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit, April 19-21, and the Austin Food & Wine Festival, April 26-28.

For more information about Pedernales Cellars, including tasting room hours, events, and wines available for online purchase, please revisit the newly-redesigned and relaunched website at pedernalescellars.com.

 

 Posted by at 3:34 pm
Apr 082013
 

Wine-Food-Pairing

2013 Hill Country Wine & Music Festival: Texas Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Evening – April 26th

Texas Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Evening with book signing by Chef Terry Thompson Anderson and writer/author Dr. Russell Kane will raise funds for the Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts slated for construction in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the last year’s Hill Country Wine & Music Festivals first time wine and food pairing event (check here). It was a night of fine outdoor dining, live music and excellently paired Texas wines with Chef Terry Thompson Anderson and writer/author Dr. Russell Kane providing their interesting stories about what made the wine and food match.

Well, get ready for the 2013 Re-Match: Texas Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Evening with Book Signing (Friday 4/26/2013, 6:00-9:30pm) at the National Museum of the Pacific War’s Ruff Haus located at 205 Elk Street in Fredericksburg. The price of the event ($100 per person) includes one copy each of both Dr. Kane’s book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the vine, and Terry Thompson Anderson’s book Texas Hill Country – A food and wine lover’s paradise. Books will be personalized and autographed. Now, that’s a heck of deal!

The event will be hosted by Terry and Russ who will guide you through an enjoyable evening, tasting fine wines and delectable foods from Texas. This will be an opportunity to taste a diversity of wines and styles that are making a wine for Texas and distinguishing it from other major wine producing states. Wines will include:

  • Luscious reds like Woodrose Tempranillo, Texas Hills Barbera, Torre di Pietra Petite Syrah,
  • Crisp whites and Rosé such as Hilmy Cellars Rosé of Tempranillo, Pedernales Cellars Albariño, Duchman Vermentino
  • Flavorful dessert wines such as Messina Hof Muscato Mistella and Fredericksburg Winery Orange Muscat.

Seven courses of wine and gourmet food pairings will be served. The wine and food pairing menu is available online in PDF at: click here for menu – 2013 HCWMF Menu.

The two acclaimed Texas authors have collaborated to pair wines from Messina Hof Winery, Texas Hills Vineyard, Hilmy Cellars, Pedernales Cellars, Duchman Family Winery, Woodrose Winery, Fredericksburg Winery and Torre di Pietra Vineyards with tapas-style recipes from Terry’s book.

The Festival’s first silent auction will be held in conjunction in this event.   Please purchase your tickets now as attendance is limited.

Where: National Museum of the Pacific War’s Ruff Haus, 205 Elk Street, Fredericksburg, Texas

When: April 26, 2013 – 6:00pm to 9:30pm

Go to www.hillcountrywineandmusic.com for more event and festival information and tickets.

 Posted by at 3:32 pm
Apr 062013
 

Pontotoc-San-Fernando

Pontotoc Vineyard 2011 San Fernando Academy: A Fusion of All the Senses

I’d tasted this wine once with winemaker Don Pullum during his visit to our hill country cottage for dinner. After that, I was captivated and knew that I needed to experience it again. The 2011 San Fernando Academy is a red blend made by Don with oversight by Pontotoc Vineyard owner Carl Money. But, to merely call it a red blend is an understatement. Like several of Don’s winemaking efforts that I’ve enjoyed in the past (and still do on occasion, if I’ve been disciplined enough to cellar a bottle or two), they are more works of art using flavors and aromas from a multiplicity of grape varieties in place of an artist’s pallet of colors.

On my second occasion to appreciate this wine, I knew that it needed special accompaniment; something that paired with both its breadth and depth of characteristics. I also knew that I needed to allow the wine time to compose and configure itself. So, I opened the bottle about five hours before consumption.

Upon my first swirl and sniff, the 2011 San Fernando Academy brought back precise memories of past Pullum exploits.

One in particular was a special cuvée Don made from his own Mason County Akashic Vineyard grapes called L’Évier (French for the “kitchen sink”). Why that name? You probably guessed it…it had so many different varieties of grapes in it that the only thing missing was the proverbial kitchen sink. Impressed so much with this wine as a statement about what Texas wines could do, I took a bottle to France for a tasting with a renowned winemaker in Gigondas. [For the details of the story and Don’s reaction, you can read it in my book, The Wineslinger Chronicles (click here).]

Don-Pullum-Wine

Winemaker Don Pullum

Now, back to the Pontotoc Vineyard 2011 San Fernando Academy. The blend of grapes used in this wine was: 27% Cabernet Franc, 26% Sangiovese, 16% Mourvedre, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Carignan, 6% Tempranillo, 3% Grenache and 1% Syrah. This blend was something that Don called “somewhat opportunistic, but it all came together very well.” Excluding the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon, the rest of the bunch were like an old world trek around the Mediterranean: Sangiovese derived from Italy, Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache from the south of France, and Tempranillo from Spain.

The taste of this wine brought a variety of dominant red and black fruit characteristics including red plum, crisp raspberries, sweet black cherries and luscious blackberries on the nose and palate. Then, came herbal nuances of thyme, tarragon and clove followed even later by myriad mysterious notes of black olive, rhubarb, a hint of smoke and the piquant of dry dusty soil.

Realizing what was going on as this wine intermingled with my senses, I grasped the need to pair this wine with equally interesting cuisine. So, I decided to go back to the Mediterranean roots of this wine to take my own culinary trek. In doing so, I prepared a Mediterranean dish that employed a dark meat chicken braise as my canvass. I started with vegetable broth and added Roma tomatoes from Italy, Herbes du Provence from France, garlic and anchovies from Spain. Then, I doubled around the southern shore of the Mediterranean to Morocco for lemon and a light touch of cinnamon ending up back in Italy for an additional dash of oregano just as the dish was finished in the oven.

As my wife and I sat down at the table to enjoy this multicultural fusion of wine and food elements, I only then understood that we could go one step further and end up with a total sensual immersion. Those of you that are of my vintage will remember listening to the Righteous Brothers recording of “That Loving Feeling” and feeling lost in what producer Phil Spector’s called his “wall of sound”. It’s reverberation in your brain seemed big enough to envelop your body and penetrate down into your soul. I scanned Pandora and played this song while we enjoyed our food and wine to complete what became the fusion of our senses: a joyous glass of varietal character, a plate of Mediterranean flavor, and our all-encompassing wall of sound.

– — – — –

Money-Family

Father Donnie, Son Carl & Uncle Ronnie Money

But, why commemorate the academy with this wine?

The Money Family is a fifth generation Texas farming family and takes great pride in bringing the fruit of their labor to the table. Carl first learned about viticulture while studying abroad in the wine district of Vienna, Austria, then imagined establishing a vineyard in his native Texas. In 2003, Carl purchased an historic German Estate in Pontotoc, where he and his family began restoring the sandstone farm house and clearing the fields with the vision of planting a vineyard. His dream culminated in the initial planting of five acres of Tempranillo. Carl became familiar with this Spanish grape variety while teaching law in Spain and rightfully thought it could handle the growing conditions in Texas that are often compared to those of Tempranillo’s native Spain.

Tempranillo-Pontotoc

Pontotoc Vineyards Tempranillo

After establishing his vineyard and refurbishing the farm house, Carl and his wife Frances purchased the turn-of-the-century sandstone buildings in Pontotoc, including what had been the grocery store, hardware store, post office, barber shop, and movie theater, with the idea of making the town into the center of viticulture and enology in the Northern Hill Country.  The five buildings form historic downtown Pontotoc and stand facing the ruin of San Fernando Academy.

The wine from Carl Money’s Pontotoc Vineyard commemorates the San Fernando Academy. Like Pontotoc Vineyard, it was founded in Pontotoc, Texas. The academy was established in 1882 in this frontier outpost by interested citizens of the local community. It likely derived its name from the nearby San Fernando creek. The academy’s course of study was intended to lead toward a Teachers Certificate. A total of about 200 students were enrolled during the academy’s tenure and it drew many people to the area interested in education.

San-Fern-Academy

The old farmhouse estate acquired by Carl Money

– — – — –

Pontotoc Vineyard 2011 San Fernando Academy Awards:

Top 10 Texas Red Wines of 2012, Texas Monthly Magazine

Bronze Medal, 2013 Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition

Bronze Medal, 2013 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition

Silver Medal, 2013, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Apr 022013
 

 

Newsom Grape Day 2013: It’s Game Time Around Here

Its nearly time for the annual Grape Day at Newsom Vineyards in Plains, Texas. Dr. Ed Hellman from Texas AgriLife has put together a great program including notables such as Dr. Keith Striegler (Flint Ridge Winegrowing Services), Greg Bruni (Executive Winemaker and VP at Llano Estacado Winery) and himself. There may also be  a legislative speaker for lunch. When I asked the organizer Neal Newsom if things were ready, he said simply, “It’s pretty much game time around here!” And, it better be as the event is schedule for April 26th.

There will also a catered BBQ lunch. Its all free but they are hoping to get donations to offset the cost of lunch.

I’ve been to at least a couple of Neal Newsom’s Grape Days before and they are great networking opportunities with the who’s who of Texas winegrowing. I’d reckon that if you added up all the years of Texas vineyard experience on hand from old timers to newbies, there will be a over a 150 years of experience to suck in. That would get you back to the days when phylloxera struck down the French and European vineyards and when Texas native rootstock road-in in T.V. Munson’s rucksack to save the day. You never know who might show up.

Show-ups

Nolan Newsom, Kim & Doc McPherson, Bobby Cox

I asked Neal Newsom how long he’s been holding his Grape Day meetings like this one. Neal said, “I’m not really sure when we started, but it must have been about 1989 with Dr. George Ray McEachern’s and Dr Lipe’s help. They were just turn-row meetings originally. As I recall, Mom cooked for everyone!”

Neal Newsom, Newsom Vineyards

On the benefits of attending, Neal added, “It’s the best place to network if you’re thinking about grape growing or winemaking. It’s also the best place to be if you’re already in production. There will be lots of folks looking to buy fruit and others looking for wineries to purchase theirs. Most of Texas grapes comes from within 60 miles from here, so it’s the best way to see lay of the land, so to speak. You’ll get a good feel for what commercial production is like.”

Cliff-Bingham

Cliff Bingham, Bingham Family Vineyards

To participate in Newsom Grape Day, RSVP to Neal Newsom for the lunch: neal@newsomvineyards.com

As they said in the TWGGA announcement for this event…”So come spit in the dirt and see how its done in West Texas. If you are the least bit interested in making wine or grapes [in Texas], this is the place to be.”

– — – — –

Newsom Grape Day Schedule

April 26, 2013

8:00 – 9:00 Registration

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome – Neal Newsom

9:15 – 10:15 Mechanized Balanced Cropping: A Strategy to Reduce Crop Loss from Adverse Weather Conditions – Dr. Keith Striegler, Flint Ridge Winegrowing Services

10:15 – 10:45 Break & Vineyard Equipment

10:45 – 11:15 Clarification of Unfermented White Juice Using Flotation – Greg Bruni, Llano Estacado Winery

11:45 – 12:00 Newsom Scholarship Recipients

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 1:30 Tempranillo on the High Plains – Neal Newsom, Newsom Vineyards

1:30 – 2:15 Alternative Grape Varieties – Dr. Ed Hellman, Texas A&M AgriLife and Texas Tech Univ.

2:15 – 3:15 A Viticulturist’s Perspective on Grapevine Virus Problems and Solutions – Dr. Keith Striegler, Flint Ridge Winegrowing Services

 Posted by at 2:02 pm
Apr 012013
 

 

Austin Food & Wine Festival April 27, 2013: Texas Wines – Ready for the Main Stage

The 2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival is coming up fast and on Saturday morning April 27, 2013, a distinguished panel, a selection of gold medal wines and over a hundred participants will come together for a guided tasting at this year’s festival.

I will curate this tasting of Lone Star vino alongside premiere wine talent from the Lone Star state and beyond. This talent will include Austin’s advanced and master sommeliers Devon Broglie, Craig Collins and June Rodil, and FOOD & WINE Magazine’s Executive Wine Editor, Ray Isle. They will lend their expertise to this delicious discussion.

2013-Texas-Wine-Panel

Devon Broglie, Craig Collins, June Rodil and Ray Isle

When commenting on his participation in this panel Ray Isle said, “As an expat Texan stuck in the wilds of New York City, the opportunity to come back to Austin and taste & talk about six great wines from my home state is one I look forward to pretty much all year long. The fact that I can run off with the leftover bottles and drink them with some worthwhile barbecue afterward doesn’t hurt either….Not that I’d ever break the rules and do that, of course.”

My return quip was, “Ray, my bet is that with the crowd of Texas tasters we will draw at this event, I’d be surprised if there will be any wine left. Last year our Texas wine tasting was on Sunday morning, a less than optimal time slot; however, we filled the tent with over a hundred people. Many more were relegated to standing room only and could only watch us sip and savor the fine Texas wines.”

Want to know more about last year’s performance of Texas wines at the 2012 Austin Food & Wine Festival? Click here.

Like last year, the real stars of the show in our guided tasting are the wines. All are Texas bred, made from Texas-grown grapes. There will be no imposters; all are Texas appellation wines. The Texas wines in the tasting are all recently announced gold medal winners from this year’s prestigious Dallas Morning News – Texsom Wine Competition:

As you can see, Texas does not produce the standard California set of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Many of the wines in Texas are made from grapes that originate from the climes of Mediterranean countries (sometimes). These include smoky Tempranillo from Spain, inky-dark Tannat from the extremes of the French Pyrenees, and floral white wines and blends made from Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne from the south of France.

But wait, there’s more.

The extreme flexibility of Texas wine production is highlighted by a Cabernet Sauvignon made with alternative techniques perfected by South American winemakers involving cold soaking and extended maceration that extract pure fruit essences and natural grape tannins without the need for oak aging. Finally, our tasting with finish with a real surprise: a quality Texas Riesling with a crisp, off-dry expression of citrus and honey. It’s going to be like a global wine tour and bypassing California. So, get ready.

As the festival’s promo says “Everything is bigger in Texas, even the wine scene!” So, get registered for the Austin Food & Wine Festival (click here), then mosey on down to the Cedar Tent at Auditorium Shores & Republic Square Park to enjoy a celebration of Texas’s best wines that can now share the main stage with the finest foods and wines around.

2012-Austin-Wine-Panel

Our panelists at the 2012 Austin Food & Wine Fest – Texas wine panel

– — – — –

Also, don’t forget to check out the Festival’s Instagram contest (click here).

 Posted by at 9:26 pm
Mar 292013
 
olivier-houston-duchman

Chef Olivier Ciesielski (photo via L’Olivier Restaurant)

Duchman Winery Dinner at Houston’s L’Olivier Restaurant: High Time for Texas Wines on the Gourmet Scene

A splash of Vermentino on a knee and hearty conversation around well-matched gourmet food and excellent wines made for a lovely evening this week at Houston’s French-inspired, Montrose-area L’Olivier Restaurant. But what if I told you this wasn’t a French wine affair, but rather a Texas wine dinner would you think any different of it?

Well, the consensus if those in attendance was you shouldn’t.  It was a delight. Famed Chef Olivier Ciesielski did his usual best; taking the finest of European cuisine and pairing it with the wine flair from a quite different part of the universe – the world of Texas wines.

L'Olivier-Menu

More specifically, the wines were provided by Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, Texas. Winery owners and fellow Houstonians Stan and Lisa Duchman attended and dined and conversed with friends, associates and the restaurant’s faithful patrons, some of which kept asking if their first wine was a Chardonnay.

OK, after hearing this, I had to take the bait and resurrected the comments I made previously in another winery’s tasting room who was pouring their Texas Viognier to another California Chardonnay drinker.

While on the restaurant’s patio during the reception, I said, “Try it, you’ll like it. It IS Texas Chardonnay! It just happens to be made from Viognier, a grape that does as well here in Texas as Chardonnay does in California.” With that, I saw a cringe from Duchman winemaker Dave Reilly. However, in a flash and with a shared wink, we both smiled knowing that this is how Texas wines will gain new followers…one California Chardonnay drinker at a time.

Dave-Reilly-Duchman

Winemaker, Dave Reilly  (photo via Duchman Family Winery)

During the evening, the Duchmans and Reilly provided point-by-point commentary on their wines along side Chef Olivier’s impeccable gourmet cuisine. On the patio,tThe hand-passed Hors D’Oeuvres accompanied the 2011 Duchman Viognier that showed a lighter, less aggressive style than found in many other Viogniers. Dave used one simple word to describe what he was after in this wine: “finesse”. Implicit in this statement is his working with properly harvested fruit (not over-ripe) and his personal style of providing a light hand in the winery, just as his mentor Mark Penna taught.

Duchman-Verm-Pea-Raviolli

We settled into our seats in the dim light of the restaurant. The serious food and wine pairing began with the Chef’s English Pea Ravioli teamed with the Duchman 2011 Vermentino, pairing herbal characteristics of both while also playing on the counterpoint of fatty pancetta and the white wine’s crisp acidity. Vermentino is a grape widely planted in Sardinia and in the Liguria region of Italy, but this slow ripening white grape has found a new home in Texas. This has mainly come through the initial efforts from Duchman Winery and Texas high plains winegrowers whose efforts have gained critical acclaim at international wine competitions and even from Oz Clarke during his wine sipping trip to Texas.

Next came a new Duchman release: the 2011 Tempranillo accompanied with a sliced veal chop, potato cake and morel sauce. Each was absurdly good separately and also incredibly fine together. Borrowing from Dave’s initial one word statement, this pairing could be characterized simply by the description: finesse on the plate, in the glass and in the mouth.

Duchman-Temp-Veal-Chop

I motioned to Dave to come over and have a seat beside me while I was concentrating on his Tempranillo (this being my first taste of this wine).

I said, “Dave, you know…I find that the people that pointlessly bad-mouth Texas wines the worst are Pinot Noir drinkers. They typically can’t find any Texas wines that satisfy their need for a light/medium bodied, red-fruit dominant wine with crisp acidity escorted with hints of smoke and earthy characteristics.”

I followed this with, “Dave, this Tempranillo’s got it all: red fruit, medium body, crisp acidity, and a light earthy smokiness on the finish. It could score big with that group of yet unsatisfied and potential Texas wine drinkers.”

Over hearing this, Stan Duchman said, “We had our Dolcetto (another well-awarded Duchman red wine) in a blind tasting with one of our tasting groups that was pouring high end Pinots one night. Our wine showed amazingly well, something that later surprised everybody at the tasting when the wines were revealed. Interestingly, the only person that correctly identified our wine out of the cast of high end wines featured that night was my wife Lisa.”

Finishing off the evening of fine dining were a Roquefort terrine and berry compote paired with the Duchman Canto Felice, a mildly sweet red wine. Who said, sweet red wines, can’t be serious? Nobody here. The pairing teamed up sweet red fruit characteristics on the plate and in the glass. The fifth and final course was the Chef’s strawberry soup with a personal favorite, Duchman 2009 Muscat, both of which were bright, lively, tart yet sweet.

– — – — –

stan-and-lisa-duchman

Stan and Lisa Duchman (photo via Duchman Family Winery)

For more information on tours, tastings and events at the Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood TX, click here.

For menu and reservations for Chef Olivier Ciesielski’s L’Olivier Restaurant in the Montrose-area near city center Houston, click here.

LOlivier_Restaurant_Bar

 Posted by at 1:07 pm
Mar 242013
 

Eden-Hill-Albarino-Viognier

Eden Hill Vineyard: 2013 Dallas Morning News – Texsom Wine Competition Gold Medal from Where?

You haven’t heard of this award winning Texas winery either?

I will admit that my knowledge of Eden Hill Vineyard started once I got the just released gold medal results from this year’s Dallas Morning News – Texsom Wine Competition. After perusing the results and noting the gold medal for their 2012 white blend of 50% Albarino and 50%  Viognier (grapes harvested from Smith Estate Vineyard…yep, that’s the vineyard that belongs to Texas wine pioneer Dr. Bobby Smith near Ft. Worth), I realized that Eden Hill was a winery that was not on my recent Texas rural travel itinerary, but definitely should have been.

Well, to make up for my oversight, I quickly searched to find their contact information and talked to Linda Hornbaker, owner of Eden Hill Farm and Vineyard to get me some of their award winning wine. She gave the credit for this wine to Chris Hornbaker, a recent graduate of Grayson College’s viticulture and enology program (click here for more info). I also got the details on this new, but already high flying boutique winery in North Texas:

  • Eden Hill’s winery is located in Celina, Texas, just 30 minutes north of Dallas, and 20 minutes west of McKinney.
  • If you want to taste (or buy) some of their good juice, they are open every Sunday.
  • All of their wines are made in Texas from Texas-grown grapes.

After getting a bottle of their Albarino-Viognier blend, I decided first to taste it and then pair it with an appropriate dish. Upon opening the wine and pouring the first glass, I realized that I was in store for something special. It had a fun effervescence (a light sparkle or frazzante) as it hit the glass followed by a tropical rush of citrus and pineapple overlaid on tart apple with a hanging hint of floral on the finish. I could see why the DMN-Texsom wine competition judges were attracted to this wine and scored it well. It is fun, pleasing and well made.

Eden-Hill-Albar2

Then, I set off to prepare just the right dish to complement the wine. I started by keying on something common to the Spanish roots of the Albarino and the Rhone Valley of France where Viognier originates: garlic. I whipped up a course of curly, vegetable pasta intermixed with garlic, mushrooms, clams and a squeeze of Meyer lemon, and topped with a shake of crushed Aleppo pepper and grated cheese.

I finished the meal with a cool pour of Eden Hill Vineyard 2012 Orange Muscat that uses grapes from their vineyard in Celina, Texas, paired with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Ooooooh!

Eden-Hill-OMuscat

There is more information about Eden Hill Vineyard on their website at: http://edenhill.com.

 Posted by at 6:34 pm
Mar 122013
 

Harvesting Blanc Du Bois in Texas

Texas Grape Growers Committee to host Blanc Du Bois Symposium: May 10, 2013

I’ve had some pretty good comments back (many by direct email rather than comments on the blog) from my recent post about Messina Hof Winery‘s new white wine offering of Blanc Du Bois (click here). It is reflective of how far this grape has come in Texas to the point where Texas is the top producer of wines from Blanc Du Bois with more than 20 wineries making commercial wines, and even a top-rated Texas winery like Messina Hof has accepted it into their portfolio  of wines.

There is still more action to be reported on the Blanc Du Bois front in Texas. I recevied a recent mailing from the Austin County Ag News indicating that the Austin County Grape Growers Committee, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association will be sponsoring a symposium specifically on Blanc Du Bois on Friday, May 10th, at the Cat Spring Agricultural Society Hall (Cat Spring, TX).

This event will feature growers and wine makers from all over the southeastern United States interested in Blanc Du Bois, a hybrid bunch grape that was crossed in 1968 by John Mortensen at the University of Florida. Since its release, Blanc Du Bois hsa found its way into commercial production in southeatern states, but currently Texas is the leader in Blanc Du Bois production with more than 150 acres in production. Austin county alone has over 30 acres planted in this grape.

The morning session on May 10th will involve presentations about growing Blanc Du Bois and will concentrate on the experience in south central Texas with Fritz Westover, Texas Agrilife Extension Program Specialist and Chris Brundrett, Viticultural Consultant, co-owner of William Chris Vineyards, as featured speakers. The afternoon sessions will focus on making wine with Blanc Du Bois and include presentations by Raymond Haak, Owner of Haak Vineyards & Winery in Santa Fe, who has long championed this grape and had his Blanc Du Bois wines medal in international wine competitions; Jim Evans, Enologist (Lost Oak Winery); Genie Burgess, Vice President of Lakeridge Winery in Florida.

Haak Blanc Du Bois

The program is scheduled to begin with registration from 8:30 to 9:00 am and the sessions to begin thereafter and last until about 4 pm. The registration fee is $65 per person that will be charged at the door. This fee will include all handouts, break refreshments and a catered lunchtime meal.

Anyone interested in registration for this program is asked to contact the Texas Agrilife Extension Service office in Austin County at 979-865-2072 or by email at: austin-tx@tamu.edu

Vertical Tasting of Blanc Du Bois

 

 Posted by at 1:58 pm
Mar 092013
 

#TXwine-Corks

Manifesto: Time for Texas Wineries to Ask Wine Consumers to Tastes & Tweet #TXwine

A few weeks ago, I though about an idea about how to better utilize the Twitter to spread the word about Texas wines.

Some wineries print their names on their corks. But, they also print all sorts of crazy stuff on their corks, too; like the words “Love” and “Peace”, or include line drawings of winged angels or it might be tangles of grapevine tendrils. My though was why don’t Texas wineries print #TXwine” on their labels. Additionally, they could print a request to their wine consumers, “Like Texas wine? Tweet #TXwine”. Such an effort could effectively utilize and could even expand further the network of Texas wine lovers on Twitter, all working to promote the wines from Texas that they love. It could even promote wine quality as a side benefit…as with visibility, comes an even greater need for quality.

Why did I have this idea? See below (for the rest of the story):

While the number of Texas wineries has increased to over 200 wineries across the states and Texas wines are garnering awards at both national and international competitions, Texas wines have been largely ignored by the mainstream wine media. I can rationalize this situation by the fact that Texas, while being the fifth largest wine producing state, it is also the fourth largest wine consuming state. Therefore, not much of our good juice makes it out of the state. Current estimates are that 95% of Texas wine is sold and consumed right here in Texas. This is contrary to the situation in the larger wine producing states (such as California, Washington and Oregon) and all major wine producing regions around the world that depend on an export model for wine sales.

Why does this matter? Well, because Texas wineries do not export their wines to any great degree, consumers across the nation can’t easily get Texas wines. Also, Texas wineries don’t have large national advertising contracts with major wine publications like the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine, etc. Therefore, on two counts, there are no incentives for these “journals of mass evaluation” to include Texas wines in their reviews. However, social media like following #TXwine on Twitter, Texas Wine Drinkers Group on Facebook, and the increasing number of   Texas wine blogs available online have filled in the void in the coverage of Texas wines left by the major publications.

Several years ago, the Texas state government had a program to support its fledgling wine industry through the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texas Wine Marketing Program, which has since succumbed to the heavy handed budget cutting in Austin (but hey, since the Texas legislature cut $5 billion from the education budget, can we really complain that they nuked a Texas wine marketing program).

During the time period under the Texas wine marketing assistance program, Texas Twitter events started to pop up which help people to follow and share Texas wine experiences even if some of the people could not easily get the wine. To help these follow and track the tasting action in these Twitter events (like TXwine Twitter Tuesday coming up this March 12th 7-8 pm CT) and more generally the day-to-day Texas wine action, several of us bloggers started using the hashtag #TXwine.

If you’re not on Twitter or Tweet regularly, you are probably saying…”What the hell is a hashtag and why do I care!”

Well, over the past 3 or 4 years, a Twitter community has arisen that enjoys and supports the Texas wines they like. These people share their Texas wine experiences and use #TXwine (called a hashtag) to follow, search, tag tweets on Texas wine activities.

The volume of tweeter activity using #TXwine-tagged tweets has steady grown. On an average day, 20-30,000 Tweeter impressions roam about the Twitterverse on Texas wines with #TXwine and incompass about 10,000 followers. On days when there is TXwine Twitter Tasting scheduled (click here for details on the upcoming March 12th event), the activity on #TXwine increases to around 500,000 impressions on Twitter and with 90 to 80,000 followers. The January 2013 TXwine Twitter Tuesday (click here) hit a new record of over 1,000,000 media impressions and 300,000 followers when the event linked people at wine bars around Texas and several at Whole Food Market locations all tasting Texas wines and using #TXwine. In fact, that evening #TXwine was a trending hashtag on Twitter (meaning that it was one of the most active anywhere at the time).

OK, it’s your turn…What do you think?

Texas-wine-corks

 Posted by at 1:09 pm
Mar 062013
 

Bodacious-Red-Lamb

Texas on the Plate Bodacious Red Wine: Bodacious Is as Bodacious Does!

Recently Chef Terry Thompson-Anderson posted on her Facebook page:

“Calling all Texas wine lovers! This Friday, March 1, Bodacious Red Wine, a Cabernet/Barbera blend, will be released at an HEB Cooking Connection near you. I developed this wine in conjunction with Greg Bruni, winemaker at Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, Texas. The wine was created to pair perfectly with any dish prepared using the Bodacious Red Soppin’ Sauce from my Texas on the Plate Food Product line. Quantities are limited, so get your supply early.”

Chef-Terry

It took some doing at my local HEB (Houston Montrose Store), talking with their wine manager, floor manager, general manager and cooking connection manager. But, day later, I finally got a call from my HEB store saying that they received Terry’s wine and that they were doing cooking/tasting demos with it in combination with her Texas on the Plate Bodacious Soppin’ Sauce. I also found out that the nearby HEB Buffalo Speedway store also received their allocation of wine and sauce for cooking/tasting demos.

If you know Terry, she is a person that likes her flavors with a capital “F”. No, come to think of it, they better be “FLAVORS” in all caps.  

Her Bodacious Red Soppin’ Sauce is a “Full Monty” of flavors made to wake up your palate with savory and a big dose of umami. The list of ingredients on the back made my head spin. I don’t know how she came up with the mixture.

Bodacious-Sauce-Wine

When Terry told me about her new wine creation, I just couldn’t imagine how she would get the wine to work with this sauce; it was so big and multifaceted. However, after doing blending trials with winemaker (and wine blending magician) Greg Bruni, they nailed it and rightly called it Bodacious Texas Red: Cabernet Sauvignon with some Barbera and I am sure a few more hidden red varietals, as well. 

Bodacious Red is a fruit forward and approachable. It could be my new sippin’ Cabernet. Just imagine me a sippin’ and a soppin’! It’s warm and friendly on the palate yet food-friendly and quite interesting. It’s a 2010 vintage and fully a Texas appellation wine.

The wine has a dominance of blackberry and plum laid over a mid-palate with earthy mushroom and soy elements, then finishes with a medium, yet firm, tannic structure ending in a refreshing dryness. This wine is savory and umami just like Terry’s soppin’ sauce, but adds enough pleasant grape acidity to keep everything fresh bite after bite and sip after sip.

I opened my Bodacious Red wine after marinating my lamb chops in the soppin’ sauce overnight. The sauce, lamb and wine were great together, all melding admirably. My salute to Terry, Greg and their Texas on the Plate collaboration.

Stop by the Cooking Connection at your nearest HEB store to sample and you too can do some soppin’ and some Texas inw sippin’.

Bodacious-Red

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 Posted by at 10:05 pm